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Montgomery Co. Schools To Cut Employee Benefits In 2012

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As the economy soured, all agencies in Montgomery County saw some sort of cuts to their budgets. The school system never did, however, because of a state law that requires counties to spend more on their schools every year.

But this year, state lawmakers gave Montgomery County a one-year reprieve from penalties for not adhering to the law, and county council president Valerie Ervin says they will use this year to hit the "reset button" on the school budget.

In the coming years, the school system will see thousands of new students, and Ervin says that would mean the county would have to spend millions of dollars it doesn't have under the state law.

"We've already taxed our residents to the hilt. We can't go to the income tax; it's maxed out," she says. "We've raised the property tax, we've raised the energy tax, we've raised the cell phone tax. We are taxing our residents out."

The budget cuts for this year will likely target benefit packages for school employees, as council members do not want to cut anything that would effect class sizes, says Ervin.

She also acknowledges that the move to cut employee benefits will likely anger one of the strongest lobbies in the county, the teachers union.

"The teacher's union, and the other unions that support school system employees, will come to the table realizing the conversation will be very different," she says.

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